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Removable Media: 6 Ways to Protect Your Devices

Kinyarwanda version


Removable media are portable hardware that can be connected to an information system, computer, or network to provide storage. Some examples of removable media are:
  • USB memory sticks
  • External hard drives
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Mobile phones and tablet devices
Removable media are popular because of their portability, however, cybercriminals target this feature to spread malware. Adopt these preventive strategies to protect your devices against the spread of malware through removable media.

1. Never use removable media that you do not trust
The most common way malware is spread through removable media is a planted USB drive in a busy area, where someone is likely to pick it up. You should never use removable media that you have found and cannot trust, and where you have been given removable media by someone trustworthy, scan it with antivirus software before accessing its files.
2. Prohibit external removable media use

In organizations, external removable media use can be prohibited to only authorized personnel to reduce the risk of data breaches through human error. Seek out your organizations policy on use of external removable media and follow it to ensure you adhere to recommended guidelines.
3. Remove sensitive information after completing a transfer
After transferring sensitive data from the removable media to the intended location, delete this sensitive information from the removable media to eliminate the chance of unauthorized access.
4. Disable auto-run and auto-play functions

Auto-run and auto-play functions immediately execute malicious code when a removable media is inserted into a computer. To disable these functions, go to your computer's settings and change the default action for the removable media to "Take no action."
5. Password protect your removable media

Password protection can help secure your data in case the removable media or device is lost or stolen.
For Windows:
  1. Insert the USB flash drive into your computer.
  2. Press Win+ E keys to open File Explorer, then, right-click your USB drive.
  3. Select "Turn BitLocker On".
  4. Check the box before "Use a password to unlock the drive" and enter a strong and unique password twice. Then, select "Next".
  5. Select where or how you want to back up your recovery key in the next window and select "Next".
  6. On the Choose how much of your drive to encrypt screen, select "Encrypt entire drive" and then click "Next".
  7. On the Choose which encryption mode to use screen, select "Compatible mode" and then hit "Next".
  8. Then, you reach the final step. Pay attention to some warnings and click "Start encrypting". BitLocker will immediately work and encrypt your flash drive with a password.
For Mac:
  1. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Finder and right-click the USB drive, then select "Encrypt".
  3. Enter the strong and unique password and confirm it. You can also add a hint to help remember the password later.
  4. Select Encrypt Disk to complete the encryption process.
6. Apply physical security to your removable media

In cases where the removable media is critical and contains sensitive data, you can apply physical security to your removable media. This may be in the form of a safe with a code for access, or drawer with a lock and key.

15 March 2023

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